Power Rankings: Rising contenders, new faces shake things up

American League continues to dominate power rankings (1:13)

John Farrell and Jim Bowden discuss the best teams in baseball, with the Red Sox, Astros and Yankees the class of the big leagues. (1:13)

One week away from the All-Star break, MLB's elite teams have maintained their lead over the rest of baseball, but we're seeing a few new clubs and several fresh faces show surprising staying power. The Astros remained atop our rankings for the fourth consecutive week by getting four of five first-place votes. The Red Sox got the other first-place vote to nudge aside the Yankees in the No. 2 slot, and the Brewers moved to No. 5, trading places with the Indians.

Further down the list, things start getting a bit more dramatic. Powered by Max Muncy, the Dodgers keep climbing within the top 10. The Phillies clawed their way back up three slots to No. 11 while also leapfrogging the Nationals in the NL East race. And the A's showed they're not far out of the mix, either, with another strong week. But right about where you get to the Angels at No. 15, you can draw a line between teams that can still chase postseason hopes and teams that should already be thinking about whom they should trade away and how soon.

As far as who made the biggest moves up or down, the Rockies made the single biggest gain, moving up four slots on the strength of a strong week, while the Pirates suffered the single biggest decline, falling three rungs in the rankings, past a Reds team that climbed up another three spots as it continues its sneaky, in-season rally.

This week, our panel of voters is composed of David Schoenfield, Eric Karabell, Tim Kurkjian, Bradford Doolittle and Sarah Langs.

Week 13 rankings | Week 12 | Week 11 | Week 10 | Week 9 | Week 8 | Week 7 | Week 6 | Week 5 | Week 4 | Week 3 | Week 2 | Week 1 | Preseason

1. Houston Astros

Record: 61-31
Week 13 ranking: 1

Early in the year, it looked like the Astros might get four starting pitchers on the All-Star team, in Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton and either Dallas Keuchel (with a strong initial performance) or Lance McCullers Jr. (who has been good but not All-Star-good). Not quite. The record for most starting pitchers from one team on a single All-Star roster is four, set by the 1942 Reds, who had Bucky Walters, Johnny Vander Meer, Ray Starr and Paul Derringer. Four is also the record for total pitchers (including relievers) for any single team -- there have been five other instances aside from the 1942 Reds of teams with four All-Star pitchers. Those all included at least one reliever, the most recent being the 2011 Giants. -- Sarah Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

2. Boston Red Sox

Record: 62-29
Week 13 ranking: 3

The Red Sox offense has been exceptionally potent over the past few weeks. Since June 17, Boston leads baseball with a .307 batting average and nine games scoring at least eight runs. J.D. Martinez has powered the team over that span, hitting .375 and driving in 19 runs. Boston's designated hitter has 11 multihit games in that stretch, tied with Starlin Castro for the most in baseball. -- Dan McCarthy, ESPN Stats & Information

3. New York Yankees

Record: 58-29
Week 13 ranking: 2

The Yankees' power bats have come to life over the past week, leading baseball in July with 16 home runs in seven games. Aaron Hicks (5) and Aaron Judge (4) have paced the team, but an unexpected contributor has added three of his own since July 1. After opening his career 0-for-22, backup catcher Kyle Higashioka broke through with a home run off David Price. His first three career hits were home runs before a July 7 single broke that stretch. -- McCarthy

4. Chicago Cubs

Record: 51-36
Week 13 ranking: 4

Having to come from behind to win is not ideal, but the Cubs have been great at it lately. Chicago has come from behind in its past nine wins. Before that, the Cubs had come back 19 times to win all season. Part of the Cubs' problem has been slow starts in the first inning. Since the start of July, they've allowed first-inning runs in five games (but are 4-1 in those contests). -- Kenneth Woolums, ESPN Stats & Information

5. Milwaukee Brewers

Record: 54-36
Week 13 ranking: 6

The Cubs have made the run many expected, but the Brewers have answered that challenge so far. The Brewers remain in first place in the NL Central, and their final eight games leading into the All-Star break will come against the Marlins and Pirates. Milwaukee already has spent 70 days in first place this season after spending 69 days atop the Central last season before losing the division title to the Cubs. -- Paul Casella, ESPN Stats & Information

6. Cleveland Indians

Record: 49-39
Week 13 ranking: 5

It's easy to focus on the huge years the Tribe is getting from Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez as the reason it can afford to cruise to a division title, but with the pressure off in the AL Central, the Indians also have managed to reap modest improvements in former problem areas. Even with Andrew Miller on the shelf, the bullpen ranks in the top 10 in ERA since June 1, while Jason Kipnis has finally started hitting again, delivering a .771 OPS since June 1. -- Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com

7. Seattle Mariners

Record: 57-34
Week 13 ranking: 7

The Mariners finally saw their season-high, eight-game winning streak snapped last week, but Seattle remains on pace for 100 wins, a mark it has reached only once in franchise history. That came during the Mariners' 116-win season in 2001, which also happens to be the last time they made the playoffs. Seattle seems destined to end that postseason drought, as the Athletics are the only team fewer than 10 games behind that final playoff spot. -- Casella

8. Los Angeles Dodgers

Record: 48-41
Week 13 ranking: 9

The breakout performance of Max Muncy has earned due credit lately, but give Ross Stripling some love for his equally season-saving performance, too. His 7.92 K/BB ratio ranks 11th all time in the modern era (since 1901) among ERA qualifiers, topping even Clayton Kershaw's career-best 7.71, and trails just Kluber's equally amazing 8.20 ratio among MLB pitchers so far this season. -- Kahrl

9. Atlanta Braves

Record: 50-39
Week 13 ranking: 10

Nick Markakis continues to be a positive for the Braves, posting a .922 OPS on the current road trip. Markakis ranks among the NL's best hitters on the road this season, with a .333 average away from Atlanta. Less noticeably beyond the freshly minted All-Star outfielder, Johan Camargo has provided a nice boost since being installed as the every-day third baseman, putting up an .837 OPS since May 19. -- Woolums

10. Arizona Diamondbacks

Record: 50-41
Week 13 ranking: 8

With A.J. Pollock and Steven Souza Jr. both activated from the DL last week, the D-backs are finally fielding their full lineup for the first time all season. And with Robbie Ray back as well, their rotation has its front four together. Now the question is how quickly all of them get fully in gear, because a relatively healthy Snakes squad should be able to hang with the Dodgers all the way down the wire. -- Kahrl

11. Philadelphia Phillies

Record: 49-38
Week 13 ranking: 14

The Phillies have found themselves in the mix atop the NL East lately. This is already the latest they've had at least a share of first place since the last day of the 2011 season, when they won the division. That was the team's last playoff appearance of any sort, and it's beginning to look like 2018 might break the Phillies' six-season drought. The last time they made the playoffs in their first full season under a new manager was in 1980 under Dallas Green, when they won the World Series. -- Langs

12. St. Louis Cardinals

Record: 46-43
Week 13 ranking: 13

Miles Mikolas continues to have an All-Star season for the Cardinals. His 2.63 ERA ranks seventh among starters in the National League. His 1.03 WHIP ranks fifth among those NL starters. Opponents have a .267 OBP against him, fourth best in the National League, and just a .329 slugging percentage. The last Cardinals pitcher other than Adam Wainwright or Chris Carpenter to finish a qualified season with an ERA this low was Bob Tewksbury, in 1992 at 2.16. -- Langs

13. Oakland Athletics

Record: 50-40
Week 13 ranking: 11

Wrapping two series wins over the Indians around sweeping two from the Padres, the A's are hot. They've already reached 50 wins, which would be good enough to contend in four other divisions but not in the AL West. This week's trip to Houston to face the Astros' four best starting pitchers could be a major difference-maker for the A's as they head toward the All-Star break trying to determine if they have a shot. -- Kahrl

14. Washington Nationals

Record: 45-44
Week 13 ranking: 12

What a week for the Nationals. After a June in which they were shut out a franchise-record seven times, they've had two high-scoring games within the first week of July. On Thursday, they came back from a nine-run deficit for the second time in franchise history, thanks to eight RBIs from Trea Turner. Then on Saturday, they posted an 18-4 victory behind Mark Reynolds' 10 RBIs. Turner and Reynolds are the third set of NL teammates with eight-plus-RBI games in the same season and first since Orlando Cepeda and Willie Mays for the 1961 Giants. On Sunday, Reynolds pitched. -- Langs

15. Los Angeles Angels

Record: 46-45
Week 13 ranking: 15

The Angels' stagnant offense got a much-needed boost with the return of Shohei Ohtani last week. Ohtani helped key a two-out comeback on Friday and delivered a game-winning pinch-hit home run on Sunday. And predictably, Mike Trout has been voted an All-Star starter for the sixth time and will be making his seventh All-Star appearance overall. -- Casella

16. Tampa Bay Rays

Record: 45-44
Week 13 ranking: 17

Tampa Bay sits 16 games out of first place in the AL East, the largest gap between first- and third-place teams in any division. Stuck in a division with the Yankees and Red Sox, the Rays are in an uphill battle for relevance despite playing some good baseball lately. Consider this: If Tampa Bay played in the AL Central, it would be in second place and just four wins behind Cleveland. -- McCarthy

17. Colorado Rockies

Record: 46-44
Week 13 ranking: 21

Despite facing a pair of tough opponents, the Rockies came up just shy in their bid for a perfect week when they dropped Sunday's series finale to the Mariners. They still finished the week 5-1, including a three-game sweep of the Giants. Things won't get any easier before the All-Star break, as the Rockies host the division-leading Diamondbacks before another three-game set with Seattle. -- Casella

18. San Francisco Giants

Record: 47-45
Week 13 ranking: 16

The Giants' offense at home has been far superior to what it was last year. They hit 48 home runs at home all of last season, and they're already up to 45 for the season through just 44 home games. They've already scored 212 runs at home, too, which is more than 60 percent of their total of 316 runs at home last year. Their 48 home runs at home last season were 25 fewer than any other team -- the Pirates and Red Sox each hit 73 at home last year, tied for the second fewest. -- Langs

19. Toronto Blue Jays

Record: 41-48
Week 13 ranking: 19

Top trade target J.A. Happ is mired in a stretch to forget. Over his past four starts, the lefty owns a 7.94 ERA, fourth worst in baseball. Over that span, he induced a swing-and-miss on just 19 percent of swings taken against him, down from 26 percent to open the season. This has been even more pronounced with his fastball; hitters owned a .183 average against his fastball before his start on June 20, but it's up to .277 since. -- McCarthy

20. Cincinnati Reds

Record: 39-51
Week 13 ranking: 23

It's possible Matt Harvey has turned himself into a viable trade chip for the Reds, who could be poised for a big midseason sell-off. Since joining Cincinnati, Harvey has cut his walk rate from 3.0 to 2.0 per nine, kept his strikeout rate the same and stopped allowing so many home runs (2.0 to 1.1 per nine). While his peripherals still leave a lot to be desired, the Dark Knight could be a key member of a playoff rotation this October. -- Woolums

21. Pittsburgh Pirates

Record: 41-48
Week 13 ranking: 18

If the Pirates were not officially out of it before, they are now after dropping five straight against the Dodgers and Phillies, including a 17-5 loss to Philadelphia on Friday night in from of their home crowd. Not having Francisco Cervelli, who was activated Sunday, really hurt Pittsburgh; since he had last played on June 21, the Pirates were 25th in runs per game (3.4) and were 5-10. -- Woolums

22. Minnesota Twins

Record: 39-48
Week 13 ranking: 20

A home series against the Orioles is all any team really needs to seemingly get right, but the six games before might have officially sealed the deal for Minnesota. The Twins dropped six straight games to the Cubs and Brewers, two of the NL's top contenders. After allowing 35 runs in three games to the Cubs, the Twins scored just seven in three against Milwaukee. -- Woolums

23. Texas Rangers

Record: 40-51
Week 13 ranking: 22

Another week has passed in which Shin-Soo Choo reached base in every game he played. Choo has now reached base safely in 47 consecutive games, setting the record for the longest single-season on-base streak in franchise history. That mark previously belonged to Julio Franco, who reached in 46 straight games in 1993. Choo has a ways to go before he gets to Ted Williams' all-time record of reaching base in 84 straight games. -- Casella

24. Detroit Tigers

Record: 40-52
Week 13 ranking: 25

The Tigers might be a stronger also-ran team than expected, but their big test in July is finding out whether they can flip veteran pitchers such as Mike Fiers and Jordan Zimmermann for any kind of value. To get a worthwhile prospect for Zimmermann, the Tigers would have to absorb a big chunk of the $50 million he's owed through 2020, but his recent three-start run of allowing just two runs in 20 innings with a 20-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio suggests there's still some life in his arm. -- Kahrl

25. San Diego Padres

Record: 39-53
Week 13 ranking: 24

Little more than three weeks ago, the Padres looked like a 34-38 spoiler ready to put a scare in opponents, but they've gone just 5-15 since. With the Dodgers and Cubs on deck before the All-Star break, their slump might not have hit bottom yet. Among the Padres struggling is Eric Hosmer, who has been good for just a .576 OPS since June 1. -- Kahrl

26. New York Mets

Record: 35-51
Week 13 ranking: 26

The Mets have developed a reputation for being unable to win when their starters turn in stellar performances. On Saturday, Steven Matz went 6⅓ innings allowing one run, but the Mets lost 3-0 after failing to score off Blake Snell or the Rays' bullpen. It was the 10th time this season the Mets lost a game in which their starter went six or more innings and allowed one run or fewer. That's the most such games of any team in the majors. It's worth noting that the most times the Mets have done that in any season is 16, in 2003. They're more than halfway there. -- Langs

27. Miami Marlins

Record: 37-55
Week 13 ranking: 27

Halfway into Year 1 of Derek Jeter's "Project Wolverine," the Marlins are better than expected on the field but are nevertheless on pace to draw fewer than 10,000 fans per game for the first time in franchise history; they're drawing only slightly better than Triple-A teams in Round Rock, Nashville or Charlotte are so far. While poor venues might be the reason why the Rays and A's rank 28th and 29th in attendance, the last-place Marlins have no such excuse, and even fewer fans might show should the team deal players such as J.T. Realmuto or Starlin Castro. -- Kahrl

28. Chicago White Sox

Record: 30-60
Week 13 ranking: 28

Jose Abreu has been one of the few bright spots for the White Sox this season -- and fans noticed. Abreu was voted into the All-Star Game as the starting first baseman in the American League. Abreu's only other All-Star appearance came in his rookie season on his way to being named the 2014 American League Rookie of the Year. Abreu is trying to join Albert Pujols and Joe DiMaggio as the only players with 25 home runs and 100 RBIs in each of their first five big league seasons. -- Casella

29. Kansas City Royals

Record: 25-64
Week 13 ranking: 30

The Royals have struggled this season, but they have been exceptionally bad since June 1. Their .152 winning percentage, .204 batting average and .575 OPS over that span are all the worst in baseball. Their best contributor since the beginning of June is Whit Merrifield; he owns a .333 batting average with 13 extra-base hits. The pitching has not helped, either; they also have an MLB-worst 5.54 ERA and 1.55 WHIP in that stretch. -- McCarthy

30. Baltimore Orioles

Record: 24-65
Week 13 ranking: 29

Jonathan Schoop entered July hitting a paltry .197 and struggling to make consistent contact. He had a hot week since, delivering a .416 batting average. Schoop also added his second multihomer game of the season on Thursday. His performance has not helped Baltimore in the win column, however; the Orioles are 1-13 in their past 14 games. -- McCarthy